Today's mileage: 55
LEJOG mileage to date: 194

Map view:

Google Earth view:

And the ride to date:

Today was much flatter - though my GPS altimeter seems to have got slightly confused nine or 10 miles in!

It was - surprise, surprise - raining in the morning.

We had parked next to a somewhat grander motorhome, and Erica thought if we took the starting-out photo in front of it, her motorhome might get jealous and puff itself up a bit in size.

After my soggy experience, I'd taken care to fasten my waterproofs carefully this time. I may not have looked terribly fashionable, but I was dry!

The route we were taking was a backroad route paralleling the M5, to the left of the motorway.

This was the point at which things went slightly wrong. Donald was following me. Ahead, there was a cycle route connecting the major road we were on to the minor road we wanted to be on. I took it and Donald didn't.

He wrongly assumed that the road we were on and the cycle route would parallel each other.

I waited at the roundabout, but Donald didn't appear. I waited some more. And some more. Eventually, I figured out he wasn't going to retrace his path, so looked at the GPS to see where else he might have gone. I followed the road he was on to see where he might have gone from there, and found a slightly longer route that paralleled the right-hand side of the M5. Since he hadn't appeared, I figured he must have (a) taken that and (b) assumed I had too, and was ahead of him.

I set off on that route to see if I could catch up with him. The alternative route was longer but rather lovely.

It did, however, take a bit of a detour to the east, passing Exeter airport.

Usually, we'd be able to phone each other to regain contact - but my drowned mobile had not recovered. I'd almost forgotten the existence of these:

But in no luck in reaching either Donald or Erica, so I decided to just get on with the day.

The route I was now on was a mix of backroads and the A38. Although a theoretically busy A-road, most traffic took the M5, so it was a pretty civilised road.

Climbing one hill, I could see some cyclists slowly gaining on me, but once I reached the top, I left them behind on the downhill.

At 20 miles in, I decided a cake stop was in order. While looking for a suitable hostelry, the three cyclists caught up with me. It turned out that two of them were from the same cycling forum, John and Andrew. They had set off the day after us but were doing it in two weeks, so cycling at a faster pace. They were ready for a lunch-break, so we found a tea-shop.

There was a third guy, Sam, who'd joined them after his would-be companions had dropped out.

I accosted a local in the tea shop to take a photo, and she immediately regretted this when two other cameras were thrust at her. :-)

You can read John's blog here.

We set off as a group.

As they were doing a 2-week trip and I was doing a 3-week one, I expected their pace to be faster than mine. I told them I'd try to keep up with them, but not to wait for me. John said it might be the other way around, and I assumed he was joking, but in fact that did turn out to be the case, and they were in any case heading off on a cycle network route a bit further along.

Another day, another county. :-)

As the A38 was proving a perfectly civilised and picturesque road, I decided to stick to it as it was faster and made navigation easier.

This made sense as most traffic would be on the M5.

This was in fact one of the key lessons of the trip so far: A-roads can be fine, so I made the decision to simplify navigation from now on by using more A-roads - especially where it paralleled a busier road.

I hit Taunton at the start of the rush-hour. But while hills may be a relatively novel experience, traffic was not: I filtered through it efficiently.

After Cornwall and Devon, Somerset's rolling hills were pure luxury. I was quite amused at the name given to the house at the top of what I now considered a pretty modest rise.

I was now heading for Bridgewater.

Some more pretty villages on the way.

I'd drunk my Camelbak dry, so stopped at a village shop for water.

As I was at 40 miles, I thought an ice-cream was in order. :-)

I reached Bridgewater in the height of rush-hour.

With no mobile, I needed to call Erica to find out which campsite we were in. I pulled into a KwikFit bay, reassuring the somewhat worried-looking mechanic that I merely wished to borrow a phone.

Erica told me she'd booked a campsite just 3.5 miles away, so I set off down the backroads.

It was raining again, but I was still dry.

Campsites often aren't in the village they claim to be, so I flagged down a car to ask him if he knew of the campsite. "No," he said, "but I've seen your mate down the road looking for you." Sure enough, Donald was half a mile down the road.

I stopped at a farm to ask for directions, which were to pass through the very pretty village:

Under a railway bridge, up one of the steepest hills of the day and a short distance on to the campsite.

With perfect timing, Erica had arrived literally two minutes before us.

The campsite owner very kindly offered to waive the campsite fee, charging us only for the electricity. Many thanks to Clive Walker of The Fairwys Caravan Park, Bawdrip, near Bridgewater.

We were slowly getting more organised with our planning. Our Operations Director, Erica, decided that route-planning should be done before, rather than after, the pub!

We prepared options for 52 and 62 miles, getting us to around 10 miles below Gloucester.

The 62-mile version being a slight detour as that's where one of Erica's sisters lives.

Louise, a friend of Erica's, came over to join us. She kindly ferried us to the local pub.

There are certain things that are only funny when you're drunk. We somehow managed to make every dessert order sound rude. I ordered a tart.

The landlady, Tina, kindly gave us a lift back to the campsite.

Our original planned route was 1,028 miles. We've made a few detours, but will also be using more A-roads, so that might balance out. If so, we're just under 19% of the way into the journey, which puts us pretty much on-track - though we might get only one rest day rather than two.

Onto day 5 ...